President Donald Trump on Monday attacked his Justice Department for indicting two Republican congressmen ahead of this fall’s midterm elections, admonishing Attorney General Jeff Sessions for potentially robbing the GOP of “two easy wins” in November.
“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff.”
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Trump has made a habit of tweeting insults at Sessions ever since the attorney general recused himself from oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe in March 2017. But Monday’s jabs marked an extraordinarily brazen suggestion by the president that America’s chief law enforcement officer should have weighted the political repercussions of the indictments against the basic integrity of the U.S. justice system.
According to a March 2012 Justice Department memorandum from then-Attorney General Eric Holder: “Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.”
Rep. Chris Collins of New York and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California — the first two lawmakers to endorse the president’s 2016 bid for the White House — were indicted last month. Both were in the middle of reelection campaigns in districts that are now considered competitive in a season where Republicans were already playing defense.
Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, declined to comment on the president’s online remark.
Collins and his son were charged as part of an insider trading scheme, and the third-term congressman from the Buffalo area faces multiple counts of securities fraud, as well as charges of wire fraud and lying to investigators. He has since suspended his re-election campaign and will attempt to remove his name from the ballot.
Hunter and his wife are accused of improperly using hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars as a personal slush fund for expenses including family vacations and dental work.
Hunter, a five-term incumbent, is also accused of filing false campaign reports and wire fraud. Unless he were to pass away before Aug. 31, California Republicans will not be able to replace him on the ballot in his San Diego-based district this November, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.
Trump ripped into Sessions again in a tweet posted minutes later Monday, suggesting that the attorney general, who was confirmed over “no” votes from all but one Democratic senator, is sure to win favor from Capitol Hill’s minority party for prosecuting the two GOP House members.
“The Democrats, none of whom voted for Jeff Sessions, must love him now. Same thing with Lyin’ James Comey,” Trump posted. “The Dems all hated him, wanted him out, thought he was disgusting – UNTIL I FIRED HIM! Immediately he became a wonderful man, a saint like figure in fact. Really sick!”